With WrestleMania 31 around the corner, J.J. Dillon, manager of the Four Horsemen and a WWE Hall of Famer, can honestly say that he has witnessed all sides of the biggest day for wrestling each year. It’s only natural for him to reminisce a little, and consider one of the marquee names that he has a long history with — Sting.
The WWE is firmly entrenched as the number one wrestling company in North America, so it is easy to say that WrestleMania is a big deal. Careers can be made and hopeful promise can be dashed on the biggest stage of them all.
“WrestleMania is the Super Bowl of professional wrestling; it is the World Series of professional wrestling. It is their marquee event,” stated Dillon.
Let us not forget that WrestleMania is not on a major network on cable television. If you want to watch it, you have to find it and pay for it. Here in lies the uniqueness of the event. People want to see it each year because they know they will be entertained better than most major sporting championships. People will seek out WrestleMania because of the nostalgia, because it is a time to bring old friends together, it is a time to revisit with the heroes of their youth.
“There are people who maybe are not die-hard wrestling fans, who may not watch a pay-per-view or attend a live event,” said Dillon. “They will watch WrestleMania because it is something special.”
From 1989 to 1997, Dillon was an executive with the WWE in charge of talent relations. He got to witness the WrestleMania machine in full motion. Looking at this year’s line-up of matches Dillon took a moment to reflect on what makes WrestleMania special.
“Every year they seem to be able to focus on the culmination of match-ups that are of unique interest and I am sure this year will be no different,” said Dillon.
Being behind the scenes for so many years in the WWE, Dillon was able to get a good sense of what it takes to put on a show of this magnitude. “From a company stand point everybody is focused,” said Dillon. “It is a team effort. It is a very large company and there is so much involved in the success of the WrestleMania event, and I am not saying it is it alone, but it is a huge part of being able to carry the company through the rest of the year.”
Without a doubt everyone would credit Vince McMahon with nurturing WrestleMania into the sports entertainment spectacle that it is today. Sometimes, people get overlooked, and while he might not have been looking for the spotlight, this one gentleman, according to Dillon, had a major role in the event’s success.
“I was involved in talent relations in the logistics of travel and problem solving,” reflected Dillon. “Pat Patterson was the main guy who worked with the guys building them up to their match with their training. Pat is one of the most brilliant people that I was ever around in terms of creative and in terms of performing in the ring and was that as well. I consider him a great friend. I think a lot of the success of where the WWE is today; a lot of that credit really should go to Pat Patterson and what he has done for that company over the years.”
A big match on this year’s show features a man who hounded Dillon’s Four Horsemen, and that is Sting. At WrestleMania 31, Sting is set to make his WWE in-ring debut against Triple H. Looking back at the NWA of the mid to late 1980s would find a young Sting cutting his teeth against the likes of Ric Flair, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard. The Four Horsemen were the ultimate bad guy faction, who influenced many of today’s wrestlers including Triple H.
“I am happy for him,” Dillon said of Sting. “During the glory years of the Horsemen, and I have said this before, fans did not buy tickets just to see us stand across the ring and Flair looked pretty, and us too, whatever we did. The bell had to ring and there had to be somebody across the ring that challenged us and brought out the best in us and took us to the limit. Certainly Dusty Rhodes was the main catalyst on the other side, Magnum T.A. until the tragedy of his accident, the Road Warriors. Certainly Sting would be high on that list as well.”
It is amazing to think that Sting, who has wrestled almost every wrestler of importance from 1985 to today, is only just stepping foot into a WWE ring at the thirty-first WrestleMania. Sting has been in the ring with Flair, the Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan, the Steiners, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Vader, Barry Windham, the Road Warriors, Kurt Angle and A.J. Styles.
“He just carved a career for himself,” said Dillon. “I think that it is very fitting that as he reaches the end of his career that he gets that spot in the spotlight for the biggest wrestling event of the year and to finally have that be one of the highlights of his career to be in one of the main events in WrestleMania.”
When asked to predict who would win the match between Sting and Triple H, Dillon just laughed. How could he pick between one of his greatest rivals and a man he signed to the WWE?
“I am not one for predicting,” said Dillon. “I go to Vegas, but I am not a gambler. I am not one to predict. I look forward to it being a good show and great matches and letting the chips fall where they may.”